New Zealand ski holidays create the most memorable experiences for families as generation gaps, arguments about the bigger bedrooms and stresses at work all subside to the mutual passion for snow.
New Zealand ski areas, with their defined boundaries create a controlled playground, enabling family members to explore and bond as a group or split off and escape as individuals, and it is the combination of the two that creates a harmonious environment.
Most of New Zealand's ski areas are well-equipped for children and kids of all ages can enjoy their family snow time. Maybe you all ski together or you want to get some lessons for the kids while you have a blast ... there are a few secrets to making your time on the snow the best family holiday! Read on for our 5 tips to skiing with the kids.
The logistical challenges of any snow holiday can threaten that harmonious balance, putting parents on edge and kids on high alert. In this article, 5 top tips have been outlined to weight the scales in your favour.
1. Getting to the snow
New Zealand has very few on-mountain accommodation options so you will likely be transporting the kids and their piles of snow gear to the mountains each day. And moving everything without losing a single item (or a child) either takes a forklift and a GPS tracker or an insider’s travel tip.
Before parking the car, drive up as close as you can to the base building to unload the ski gear and the kids before you go park. At most ski resorts there is designated drop-off area right in front of the base building for just that. Most have free shuttle buses from your car back to the base building, but it's best if you've been able to drop the kids off first.
And if you want a warm spot to put your boots on, they have seats inside the rentals area or near the entrance of the base café.
Also think about taking a bus from your accommodation straight to the ski field. That takes all the stress away and there are usually many different shuttle options. Also a private taxi service might be cheaper than you think for a family, and means you can come and go exactly when you want.
2. Prepare, Prepare and Prepare some more
There are some things that you can guarantee on a family snow trip, 1) it will get cold, 2) it will get wet, 3) the kids will get tired and 4) everyone will get hungry. But none of these have to be negatives with the right preparation.
Tip #1 – pack a few extra layers. You can keep these in your car, or in lockers available to rent, saving the walk back to the car.
Tip #2 – pack an extra pair of ski pants and thermal pants for the kids. It can be a challenge to make it to the toilet with so many layers. But that doesn’t need to end the day.
Tip #3 – Send the kids out with a trail map, a chocolate bar, a guardian's name and phone number and labels on everything. Ski resorts are safe places with very defined boundaries, but things can always go missing and that goes for the kids as well.
Lost and found at is located at Guest Services. But if it is the kids you are missing, you are best talking to Ski Patrol who have most likely located your wee ones before you even knew they were missing.
Tip #4 – take lots of hot chocolate breaks. It’s a great time to assess the fatigue of the group and re-charge the batteries a little. Fatigue is the number one cause of injury at any ski area, so it is important to stay on top of it.
3. Enroll the kids in lessons
Lessons are not just about progression, they are also about alone time for you! But don’t feel guilty, alone time is appreciated by parents and kids alike, especially when adding a super cool ski or snowboard instructor and some new mates.
All resorts have a snow sports school, dedicated to safety, fun and progression with capped lesson sizes for adults and kids group lessons. For kids lessons, half day and full day (full day includes lunch) programmes commence 10 minutes prior to the adult version, give parents time to organise the entire family, including themselves. Week long holiday programmes are also available running over the New Zealand July School Holiday period.
4. Start the photo cycle
So maybe you won’t be the most popular when suggesting a family photo, but anyone with the hindsight provided by age knows how a photo will be appreciated in the weeks (or sometimes it might take decades) to follow. Walk up that little bit further for the ultimate shot. Spectacular backdrops are not in short supply in the Southern Alps!
5. A snow experiences for all
Not everyone in the group will be ready for skiing or snowboarding. This applies to little guys under 3 (although not always) and the older generations that are stoked to be included in the family holidays.
For the wee ones, have a play in the snow. Coronet Peak rents out toboggans and has a dedicated area.
For the senior members of the family, jump on the chairlift for a scenic ride (check which mountains offer this) , taking visitors up to the top of the mountain in the comfort of their own shoes. At the top, take some photos and watch the family loop around and around the ski slopes.